After having successfully marketed their product line of family-oriented 3-row 7-seat multi-purpose vehicles (MPV), Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation (Bayan Auto), the Philippine distributor of BAIC Automotive Group Co., Ltd., introduced their first crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV), the 2019 BJ20 on September 28, 2018.
A few days later, on the 8th of October, Bayan Auto invited a select group of motoring journalists, including yours truly, to test drive the BJ20 from Manila to Baguio City and back. We took the higher-spec BJ20 Luxury from the traffic gridlock of Metro Manila to a high-speed drive over the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) and on a roller coaster ride up and down the mountain roads leading to the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Needless to say, we came away impressed with the Snow White BJ20 Luxury.
Lean, Green Machine
On the 24th of November, we were privileged to drive an Aurora Green 2019 BAIC BJ20 Standard from Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga for the 8th edition of the JSK Auto Fun Run. We revved up the turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and had tremendous fun on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). The double overhead camshaft (DOHC)-equipped 16-valve MIVEC-enhanced inline-4 engine churns out 147 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 210 Newton-meters of torque between 2,000 to 4,500 rpm, which was more than enough to keep pace with the sports cars and modified hot rods that joined the JSK convoy.
Out of respect for the NLEX patrol officers, we reigned in those horses, which can propel the 1,460-kilogram BJ20 to a claimed 170 km/h top speed, and settled at the legal 100 km/h speed limit. All throughout the drive, the Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) shifted gears automatically and seamlessly. Our civilized manner of driving on the highway returned an average fuel consumption of 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers, which is equivalent to 13.33 kilometer per liter, while the stop-and-go traffic in the metropolis increased the consumption to 12 liters/km, which is about 8.33 km/liter. Despite the reduced fuel mileage, we were happy to note that the BJ20 complies with Euro 5 standards to help protect the environment while it’s sitting in traffic.
Rugged Uptown Looks
Squint your eyes and the BJ20 looks like a smaller version of a Hummer or an FJ Cruiser. The front is adorned with a 5-section grill and two high-intensity discharge (HID) Xenon headlamps topped with eyebrow-like daylight running lights (DRL). Its front facade impacts a rugged, almost robotic yet lovable appearance that it is almost certain the BJ20 will have a cameo role in the next Transformers movie.
The side view of the BJ20 imparts a chunky tough look with a high beltline, contoured slab-sided doors, over-fenders that are color-keyed with the bumpers, and thick A-, B- and C-pillars. The 2,670-millimeter wheelbase separates the front and rear 18-inch 10-spoke wheels shod with 225/55-18 Cooper CS4 Touring tires. The 4,451millimeter-long BJ20 features a 215mm ground clearance, a 24-degree approach angle, a 30-degree departure angle, and a 20-degree ramp break-over angle. Although, the available units are front-drive (FWD) only, we’d like to see a 4WD version in the future.
At the back, the shapely LED tail lamps and dual exhaust outlets look like they belong on an Aston Martin instead of a Chinese crossover. The rear tailgate lifts up effortlessly and opens tall and wide to accept a variety of stuff that can be carried in the cargo hold, which can be further augmented by folding down the rear seat backs that split 60-40.
Space – The Next Frontier
Even though our test vehicle was a BJ20 Standard, it was more than just standard fare inside. The occupants are seated onto bolstered and comfortable fabric-covered seats inside a quiet spacious cocoon. The rear legroom remains generous even after the front seats are slid to their backstop while the headroom is refreshingly breezy thanks to the squared roof design. Comfort and convenience features are thoughtfully built into the cabin.
The cockpit of the BJ20 Standard is also far more than just standard. The driver faces a 2-spoke steering wheel, two round gauges that measure revs and velocity with digital displays of the engine temperature and the amount of fuel left in the tank, and an LCD information center that says the fuel range, average fuel consumption, trip meter, time, gear indicator, and odometer readings. A small panel at the left of the steering wheel houses the controls for the electric side mirrors, traction control, and illumination level of the instrument panel while the center panel houses the air-conditioning controls. A 2-DIN infotainment system sits in the middle of the dash.
BJ20 instrument panel mixes analog and digital gauges.
Human and Cat Approved
The BJ20 Standard is not only comfortable for human passengers but for our road trip-loving cats as well. Despite the reduced sophistication with the absence of some technologies of the BJ20 Luxury, we find the Standard a bit more to our liking. Our cats Elys and Coco were quiet and relaxed during our long drive to Clark, which confirms our own feelings that this BAIC crossover is one fine comfortable ride.
As stated in our previous report, we find the BJ20 offers unbeatable value-for-money. At P1.148M, the Standard is priced P140,000 lower than the Luxury variant, which gives us 140,000 reasons to declare this Aurora Green 2019 BAIC BJ20 Standard a jolly green giant slayer in our book. The crossover vehicles from established car brands are hereby warned.
Vehicle Type : Front-engine, FWD, 5-door crossover SUV
Price : P1,148,000.00
Engine : 1.5-liter inline-4 DOHC 16V turbocharged
Transmission : CVT
Power : [email protected]
Torque : [email protected]
Wheelbase : 2670 mm
Length : 4451 mm
Width : 1845 mm
Height : 1700 mm
Curb Weight : 1460 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity : 60 liters
Front Suspension : McPherson struts
Rear Suspension : Multi-link beam
Front Brakes : Ventilated discs
Rear Brakes : Solid discs
Emissions Standards : Euro 5
Best Fuel Mileage : 13.33 km/liter (as tested)
Ave. Fuel Mileage : 8.33 km/liter (recorded)
Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation
2232 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila
Tel. No.: (02) 751-0154 / 893-1312 / 810-0151
Social Media: BAIC PHILIPPINES